Interview and Review with Author Trish Marie Dawson

13 Aug

It’s time for another author interview! Today, I am so pleased to be featuring author Trish Marie Dawson and reviewing her novel, “I Hope You Find Me”.

A brief description:

1/9
Family and Friends: The dog and I have left to find my Mom. Most of you know where her place is, the corner of 9th and F. I’ll leave a note there before I move on. Everyone here is…gone. I can’t stay. I’m not sure when or if I will come back here but leave a message anyway.
I hope you find me. – Riley

Life for Riley ends when her young children die in her arms…victims of a global viral outbreak that claims the lives of everyone she’s ever known. Left to fend for herself with only a dog as her companion, she sets out on a journey to find others, leaving notes everywhere she goes…hoping that one day someone will come looking for her. When Riley meets the handsome yet mysterious Connor on the streets of Downtown San Diego, they form a bond unlike either has experienced before. When the things that go bump in the night turn out to be more than nightmares, the trio sets off for the mountains in search of an isolated resort where they can hunker down, away from the ominous shadows of the dead city streets. The peace and tranquility of the woods isn’t enough to keep the darkness away for long though and soon Riley and Connor are forced to accept that the World and the few people left alive in it will never be the same. The shadows of their past may haunt them forever…threatening to destroy what little dreams they have left of a future unless they fight to stay in the light and never lose their hope.

I am so excited to bring you this interview and review!!

What was your favorite part of “I Hope You Find Me”?

My favorite part might have been the ending…the middle of Chapter 20. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but Riley – the main character – does something extreme and shocking and I loved being able to write that scene.

What was the hardest part to write?

Ahh…this is easy to answer! After a viral outbreak sweeps across the globe, my main character loses everyone she loves. One of the early chapters starts with a flashback dream for Riley about the death of her children. It was emotional to write, since I’m a parent myself. In fact, I was sobbing while writing that scene. And the moment I was done with it I went into both of my children’s bedrooms and scooped them up into my arms. It was hard, but necessary. No one really wants to read about dead children, but at the same time, this story is supposed to show what the emotional toll of such devastation would have on a parent who lost their child. I’ve had readers who are also parents comment on how difficult and emotional that scene was to read. If it hits someone hard, then it did what it was supposed to do…knock the air out of you.

What do you wish was different about “I Hope You Find Me”?

Different? How about wishing I wrote this ten years ago? Ha! I don’t think I would change anything about it now. That’s why I chose to make it a series, so I can continue to tell the story and work on strengthening parts that I might have left a little weak in the first book.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

I love Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Jane Austen, Lois Lowry, C.S. Lewis, Suzanne Collins, and Veronica Roth – just to name a few. Favorite books are tough because I have read hundreds. Those that made the biggest impact on my life or are books I could read again and again would probably be The Stand, The Dark Tower series, The Giver, Pride & Prejudice and The Hunger Games. With books I’m a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to favorite authors…I find one I really enjoy and read everything I can by that person.

What sparked the idea for your novel?

It was a dream. A dream where I woke up a bit sweaty and rolled over onto my back staring at the spinning ceiling fan wondering what just happened. I keep a notebook by the bed to jot down some of the crazy dreams I have, so I did that. It wouldn’t leave me alone and after a certain combination of books and movies I was reading last winter, I combined this dream with another one and ‘I Hope You Find Me’ was born.

How personal is your writing?

Extremely so – more than anyone who doesn’t know me could possibly understand.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Can I be a plotting pantster? I like to hide in dark showers and closets to scare my family. We take turns getting each other back. My house is never boring!

What is your writing routine?

Well, routines and schedules are NOT my thing, but the Gemini in me loves to have balance. When I first started writing ‘I Hope You Find Me’ I didn’t have an outline for it but worse…I didn’t have the best office space. Now I have a long desk dedicated to two things – one half for homeschooling teacher materials and the other for my laptop and writing materials. This desk is my favorite place in the house now.

When I sit down, which is whenever I have downtime from the kids (early morning, during nap times, after dinner, etc…) I put my headphones on – the universal sign in my household that unless someone stops breathing or is bleeding – leave me alone. I put on my writing playlist – which I update for each story – and I turn the music up just loud enough to drown out whatever is going on around me. I have no door to my office, so I can’t really escape the kids, husband or animals completely.

I try not to get hung up on how much I write in one sitting either, unless I’m staring down an impending deadline. As long as I can read through it and NOT think ‘Oh, this is total crap!’ then I feel accomplished for the day. I can’t leave my characters hanging – again, Gemini’s need balance – so if I have to stop writing in the middle of a scene I’ll do everything I can to finish it up before the day ends. Recently I had to leave a character literally floating in lake water overnight. What did I dream about that night? You got it…a lake. I won’t do that again. Ever.

I also don’t do much on paper until well into the beginning of the story. I have to get the initial ‘feel’ of it out before sitting down and figuring out where I want the characters to end up. My desk is also by a window, so if I need to space out I’m very lucky that the Pacific Ocean is in view. Sometimes I’ll stare at the cruise ships or military vessels as they go by and wonder who is on board. It’s a fun distraction.

Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?

My ideas come from my dreams…for the most part. So I would say the idea comes first, but the idea is propelled forward by the story I want my characters to tell. So I would say this is a little bit of both!

How did you choose the genre you write in?

I did not choose it at all. In fact, I had to look up genres on Wikipedia to see what ‘I Hope You Find Me’ and my newest story would fall under. I have labeled it Paranormal Urban Fantasy because that’s the closest thing to a genre I could pick. I didn’t sit down and say I want to write an Urban Fantasy – with ghosts! I just wrote the story and then had to figure out who it would appeal to.

How did you come up with the title?

Riley, the main character, knows she can’t stay in the city of San Diego once all of her loved ones have died…but inside her is the overwhelming fear that if she leaves her home, anyone that happens to come looking for her would not be able to find her. So she ends up leaving notes every time she changes location, with the hope that one day someone from her past will track her down.  ‘I Hope You Find Me’ is how she signs off each note she leaves.

This is actually a deep-rooted fear of my own. And I’ve thought of what I would do in similar situations, leaving some sort of note just seems to make sense. But you have to be careful, the wrong people could find you.

What project are you working on now?

I am working on the finishing touches for a new series, called The Station. The first book is named ‘Dying To Forget’ and is a Young Adult Fantasy. This one was fun to write, as the world is mostly created in my head. After a young woman dies, she ends up in a spiritual way-station and is given the option to return back to Earth as the sub-conscious for those who need that little ‘voice inside’ their head. ‘Dying To Forget’ should be available in August of this year.

I also just started writing book 2 of the Find Me series…which will be called ‘Lost And Found’. Riley’s story must continue on. Or my readers will hunt me down and torture me till the story is done. Stephen King’s Misery comes to mind. I’m joking of course, but I do hope to have book 2 out before the Holidays.

Are there certain themes you like to address in your writing?

Hmmm. I would consider myself a strong individual. I’ve been through a lot in my 33 years of life, so even though I like my female characters to have flaws and vulnerabilities, I also want them to be strong and independent too. Though I may torture my characters, I want them to come out on top, or go down fighting. You will never find a superficial, whiny, co-dependent female lead in ANY of my stories. I just don’t think I could write a main character like that – she would drive me crazy.

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

Oh wow, let me gather myself up off the floor and straighten my clothes…hopefully you can’t tell I was writhing around on the ground suffering from a massive laughing fit…can you?

Now that I’m composed, I have to admit I’m a new published writer myself. So I’m learning – literally something new every day. The only advice I could offer is to write what you love, something you are passionate about. Have a good core of readers that can tell you if your first draft sucks or not, and then make sure you edit, edit, edit before handing your baby over to someone else to edit, edit, edit. No one is perfect, but readers expect writers to be pretty close to that.

And don’t stop writing – after that first book is published, it might be easy to sit back and wait to see what happens. Do NOT do this. Keep your story going or write a new one. Don’t let your brain become idle. And yes, I’m still telling myself ALL of these things on a daily basis.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I am very lucky, no one has slammed my writing yet. I mentioned to my husband that I was terrified of my first negative review and so he stood and stared at me and said ‘The story sucks, it’s like a three year old wrote it! I couldn’t finish it, it wasn’t unique at all!’ or something along those lines. I laughed and my first negative review no longer seems so scary. It will happen, I’m toughening up my skin for it.

I’ve gotten so many awesome compliments I could not pick just one to single out. But I loved the passionate late night calls I got from my friends after they finished a scene, or hearing from friends that their friends love the story. The fact that anyone would recommend the book to someone I don’t know makes me warm and fuzzy inside. That’s all I could ever hope for as a writer.

If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

I have thought of this SO many times, you have no idea! First…Stephen King. I love this man. Second would be Norman Reedus, because I have a crush on him, it’s really that simple. The third would be Jane Austen, because I think she was probably an amazing woman, who wrote about life in a way that was way beyond her time.

Having all three of those people at the same table would mean I would be drooling over my idol, playing footsies and other unmentionables under the table with another, and begging the third to spill her secrets. Wow, what a dinner that would be.

Ms. Dawson has also provided us with an excerpt from “I Hope You Find Me”. Enjoy.

I can’t remember now how long their bodies burned but I do remember the sun setting before it was over, not far off in the distance, just beyond the still and dismal outline of downtown San Diego. Its flame-colored glare hit the Pacific Ocean and slowly, steadily, melted beyond the horizon as smoke drifted up in dark gray coils into the sky. The fleeing sun took the heat away with it, and as the first stars of the night made their appearance, the crisp chill of January returned.

Ash settled all around me, resting on my eyelashes and the tip of my nose…threatening to choke the oxygen from my lungs. I kept vigil over my dead family while I sat at the edge of the garden, slumped forward with my legs crossed and my hands resting loosely in my lap. A steady breeze from the approaching night collided with the draft from the fire, sending hot gusts of air in my direction. My face and arms stung from the warmth but the smell was worse than the heat. The strong odor of burning flesh kept my nostrils flared and stomach turning.

I knew that day it was true what they say; one can never forget the smell of a dead body. I know, I’ll never forget.

Now for the review!!!

“I Hope You Find Me” is set in San Diego, where a viral pandemic has decimated the world’s population in a flash, leaving Riley alone with her dog Zoey to search for friends and family who, like herself, have survived. What she finds leads her on a journey she never expected.

This story flows. Admittedly, not my genre of choice, but I was captured from the very beginning. There is just enough backstory to keep you going without being an information dump, yet it still leaves questions that you want answered. You simply have to know what happens next.

The storyline is fresh and inventive and the characters leap from the page. I was hooked the whole way through and became heartily upset when it ended. I still wanted to know more. Ms. Dawson in on my permanent author-to-read list. Put her on yours.

The Good: Excellent pacing, wonderful characterization, and an engaging and interesting story throughout.

The Bad: There were a few times when Riley’s affections seemed sort of all over the place, but in hindsight, I can see how the turmoil mirrored the chaos that was taking place around her. But in the moment, it was a little jarring. Nothing that stopped me from reading, though.

Overall: I highly recommend this book to anyone. It encompasses several genres, and there is truly something for everyone. Read it.

5 out of 5 stars. FACT.

Bio: Trish was born and mostly raised in San Diego, California where she lives now with her family and pets. She’s been writing short stories and poetry since high school after an obsession with Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’. After over fifteen years of crazy dreams and an overactive imagination, Trish began her first book ‘I Hope You Find Me’ in December of 2011. When Trish isn’t writing, she’s homeschooling her amazing daughter and mildly autistic son, reading whatever she can get her hands on, or enjoying the Southern California sun. As a strict Vegetarian, Trish holds a special place in her heart for animal rights and dashes into the backyard weekly to rescue lizards and mice from her mini-lab/cocker spaniel mixed dog, Zoey…who is always getting into some sort of trouble.

Connect with Trish Marie Dawson:

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2 Responses to “Interview and Review with Author Trish Marie Dawson”

  1. writermirandastork August 13, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    FACT! This book IS awesome, and the interview matches! Thank you both, this was a brilliant post, and the interview kept me giggling all the way through. Another great author interview FTW Tara! 🙂

    Like

  2. Elodie Parkes August 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    This is a great interview, really interesting and fun 🙂

    Like

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